Public lecture, panel discussion to examine ethical implications of robotics use

March 09, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A weekend workshop that examines ethical issues related to the increased use of robots will feature two events that are free and open to the public.

Ronald C. Arkin, Regents’ Professor and director of the Mobile Robots Laboratory at Georgia Tech, will present a lecture titled “Lethal Autonomous Robots and the Plight of the Noncombatant,” at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 15, in Paterno Library’s Foster Auditorium. During his presentation of the Rock Ethics Institute’s 2018 Harold K. Schilling Memorial Lecture on Science, Technology, Religion, and Contemporary Society, Arkin will examine the advantages and disadvantages associated with developing lethal autonomous robotic systems for warfare.

A panel discussion titled “Considering the Implications of Creating Ethical Robots” will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 17, in 111 Chambers Building. Panelists include Eduardo Mendieta, Penn State professor of philosophy and associate director of the Rock Ethics Institute; Shyam Sundar, Penn State distinguished professor of communications and co-director of the Media Effects Laboratory; Yochanan Bigman, postdoctoral student in psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Brian Scassellati, professor of computer science at Yale University.

Both events are being held in conjunction with the “Developing Implicitly Ethical and Norm-Competent Robots Workshop" taking place March 15-17 at Penn State. The lecture, panel discussion, and workshop are sponsored by the Rock Ethics Institute in the Penn State College of Liberal Arts.

While the lecture and panel discussion are free and open to the public, attendees are encouraged to register online for both events. Attendees for the lecture can register at; attendees for the panel discussion can register at For more information, visit

The Rock Ethics Institute was established through a $5 million gift in 2001 from Doug and Julie Rock to the College of the Liberal Arts. The institute’s mission is to promote ethical awareness and inquiry across the University, and in the public and professional sectors, through a three-fold emphasis on teaching, research and outreach. Recently, the Rocks endowed the Nancy Tuana Directorship of the Rock Ethics Institute with an additional $5 million gift, which was part of a larger commitment they made to the college during "For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students."

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 09, 2018